What Providers Can Do

Early child care professionals play an essential role in preparing children for school.

One of the most effective ways providers can prepare children for school is by engaging children’s families in the process. This means working with and providing information to families on specific strategies for engaging in their children’s learning. It can also mean helping families gain access to the tools and resources that will give them the opportunity to be the best advocate for their child.

Here are some ways that providers and programs can help enhance family engagement:

Program Leaders

  • Ensure that a family’s opinions are heard and included in the program planning process
  • Ensure that staff members have appropriate training and supervision to support families and their children
  • Develop skills in coordination and collaboration with community partners
  • Develop knowledge of relationship building that is grounded in cross-cultural responsiveness
  • Include teachers in parenting education sessions so parents and teachers can share information
  • Develop information about different kinds of education and training opportunities for families
  • Prepare staff members to engage families in appropriate ways at all times
  • Create safe environments where families and staff can learn from each other in mutually respectful ways
  • Conduct staff training around encouraging families to be advocates for their children

Community Partnerships

  • Provide information to families about resources available in the community
  • Link families to support systems and resources
  • Collaborate with community organizations that share family’s concerns and interests
  • Support outside-the-home family experiences around learning – going to libraries, museums, etc.
  • Share information with families about disabilities and special health needs
  • Form partnerships with providers and educators who can enhance educational and vocational opportunities for families
  • Provide advocacy training so families can become better advocates for their children

The Program Environment

  • Make all families – of every kind – feel welcome at the program
  • Initiate relationships with families that are receptive, responsive and respectful
  • Include family-friendly spaces with pictures and materials that affirm all families
  • Support family-child relationships in a way that values the culture and language of the family
  • Ensure that parent meetings are announced in a way that is inviting and that language is not a barrier to participation
  • Work with families to develop understandings of how to collaborate with each other within the program

Teaching and Learning

  • Approach families as equal partners in their children’s learning
  • Acknowledge the family’s role as their child’s first teacher
  • Communicate with families about their children
  • Gather information from families about their children to inform teaching
  • Encourage families to participate in parenting education
  • Support family literacy activities
  • Share information that can support children’s learning at home
  • Encourage parent-to-parent support among the community of families